“This data makes it clear that the new normal of COVID-19 includes a significant increase in hunger…A modest, fifteen percent boost to SNAP while the pandemic continues would begin to counter this increase.”
Photograph by Tamir Kalifa
New research suggests food insecurity has doubled among Texas families on the four-month anniversary of Texas’ disaster declaration for COVID-19.
Feeding Texas, the statewide network of food banks, used Monday’s anniversary of the national and statewide disaster declaration to highlight an analysis of weekly Census survey data by Northwestern University showing a spike in food insecurity across the state.
Researchers estimated that the prevalence of food insecurity in Texas may have reached 27% in May, nearly double the official rate found by USDA in 2018. Researchers predicted the sharpest increase among Black and Hispanic households, as well as families with children.
“This data makes it clear that the new normal of COVID-19 includes a significant increase in hunger,” said Celia Cole, CEO of Feeding Texas. “Our lawmakers should recognize this requires a significant increase in the resources to fight hunger.”
Related data found in the weekly survey shows that the level of food scarcity in the state has persisted at roughly the same level since tracking began nine weeks ago.
Recently, state leaders have taken positive steps to maintain emergency funding for SNAP, FEMA funds for food banks and P-EBT, a new program to help families who missed school meals in April and May.
However, Congress has failed to increase federal funding for SNAP as urged by food banks and advocates citing the increased need.
“A modest, fifteen percent boost to SNAP while the pandemic continues would begin to counter this increase,” said Cole. “It would also be a strong fiscal stimulus for food retailers and farmers in our state. If we want to emerge stronger from this health crisis, we need to make sure everyone can afford to eat.”